Sunday, January 22, 2017

Be a man- or woman role model.

Sport stars are often called upon to be role models to the young. Some measure up. Many do not. Even fewer celebrities could be looked to for such an important role. For those looking to the Church for guidance in this arena who would you choose?

The third imperative from 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 deals with this matter, perhaps in a round-about-way. The Greek word used is ‘andrizo’ and is variously translated as ‘quit you like men’ (KJV) ‘be courageous’ (NRSV)) and ‘act like men and be courageous’ (Amplified) or ‘play the man’ (Nestles Interlinear Greek-English). This word is used only once in the New Testament. It’s apparent that what Paul wrote is a challenge to translate and apply.

It is certain that the apostle was calling his readers to reach for the highest ideal of manhood their transformed minds could imagine. Would they relate it to noble warriors, Olympic champions, Biblical characters, even to missionaries? We will never know. Thinking about Biblical characters however, the one I’d look to as my role model would be Timothy. Why? Maybe because I see in him some of my personality and temperament. The way he utilised their strength, rose above their weakness and allowed the Holy Spirit to refine, mature and flavour them is encouraging. He is my role model for being courageous. He is my example as a faithful minister. He is a challenge to ‘play the man’ when it would be the self-preserving thing to run.

Timothy had a difficult family situation. Jewish mother and a Gentile father who is apparently absent. Then, when they hear the gospel he, his mother and grandmother become followers of Christ. I wonder about the reaction of the synagogue. It is apparent that Timothy took hold of the Lord’s grace and proved true in the eyes of the recently established local church. They had no hesitation in endorsing him to serve with Paul in up-coming missionary ventures.

From the book of Acts and various letters from Paul we see Timothy’s character and commitment. He was timid but conviction of and commitment to Christ gave him moral and spiritual backbone. As last week’s imperative put it, he stood his ground in the faith. Another thing which impresses is how he handled serving under the ‘shadow’ of Paul’s dynamic and restless missionary endeavours. In Philippians 2:19-24 Paul tells the Church he is sending Timothy to them. Then he adds: ‘I have no one like him who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. All of them are seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.’

The two letters Paul wrote to this man from prison are revealing. Timothy was the minister at Ephesus, a very difficult assignment. He was called upon to deal with a number of issues which I imagine he would rather have let pass. However, being a faithful servant and a capable teacher he stood on the authority of Scripture (both the Old Testament and Paul’s letters). In the first letter and chapter 4 he is encouraged to maintain pri0rities in teaching and setting an example in ‘speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.’ He was not a pulpiteer. He was first and foremost a role-model.

In the second letter this man faces issues regarding the political correct issues of his day. Paul addressed him as a soldier of Christ and a worker approved by God. These and other matters required him to stand true to the ‘sacred writings’ and to proclaim the message of Christ and the cross. The same is true today for those who would be role models in spirit and in truth.

The five imperatives of 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 build-up similar to a musical crescendo. Each depends on the other and will culminate in the rhapsody of devotion. Next week be ‘be strong’ is the subject to consider.

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